what would you do if you were building an energy efficient home?


Old 04-19-06, 02:19 PM
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what would you do if you were building an energy efficient home?

looking to start another home in the next 9 months. I would like to do a lot of things different than I did 7 years ago when I built the last one, mainly in the area of energy efficiency.

I'm looking for ideas to make the next house as efficient as possible. What would you do if you could build again and why would you do it?
Old 04-19-06, 03:39 PM
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Take a look at the recent DOE Solar Decathlon to see some of the ideas that university students have come up with, as well as standard recognized practices in the industry.
Old 04-30-06, 07:14 PM
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hal k,

I will build my next house out of SIP (structural insulated panels). It is less expensive, lighter in weight, higher in insulation value and takes less time and man power to build. I would also place the main living and glass south facing with lot of tile to gain solar mass. Last I would use solar roof panels to create a low energy use home that is mostly self contained. I would use the reverse meter and still attach to the electrical company for those cloudy days and long rainy seasons. I would most likely go with a mediteranean feel to allow for lower slopes on the roof for the solar gain and to allow for low maintenance of the exterior (stucco with a Le habra color). I would use Low E dual pane fiberglass windows to allow for painted windows that require very little maintenance.

Just a few suggestions from someone who has built a lot of houses.

Brian Garrison
Old 05-05-06, 10:01 PM
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what about the simple things like insulate "every" interior wall, wrap (insulate) all water pipes from one end to the other, fans that bring outside air from under the eaves into the house in the summer, and take hot air from the high areas and distribute to the floor vents in the winter... all low wattage flourescent fixture (lighting) throughout.. ? I like all the ideas above for sure.. I too plan on a high efficiency home next.. energy isn't getting cheaper, so harness the wind, water, or whatever else moves that you can gain energy from...
Old 06-03-06, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by frhrwa
what about the simple things like insulate "every" interior wall,
Insulated interior walls? What does that gain you?
Old 06-04-06, 01:42 PM
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Nothing except sound deadening. We normally insulate just the bathroom walls and the master bedroom walls.

The only concern with all the energy efficiency is that the houses no longer breath. You will need to address ventilation
to allow fresh air in the homes with all these great insulating methods.

Brian Garrison
Old 06-08-07, 08:36 PM
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At least where I am:

Apart from SIPs, I'd build really thick walls, which have thermally insolated inside and outside structures.

Lots of passive solar gain with themral mass storage (mansonry floor, main level)

For active heating, use radiant floor, possibly with thermal solar assist.

I may consider PV under the correct circumstances, but for purely saving money or being green, I'd forget PV or other alternative electical schemes and get a generator for backup.

Clerestory windows for ventillation cooling.

Steel roofing, and other recyclable/recycled/reused building materials.

Yes thermopane windows, but with "storms" added.

Styrofoam foundation form blocks.

Have an isolated vestibule.
Old 07-02-07, 07:37 AM
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What part of Texas? The wet part, the damp part, or the dry part? Are basements done in your area? Do you have a lot yet? What direction will the front of the house face? What are the dimensions of the lot? Lots of things will be determined by size of lot and orientation of the house on it.
Your post is old, and I assume you have already gotten past that stage, but for everyone else, the house plan should not be chosen until after you have the lot. Wrong facing windows is the worst mistake I see made. People have too much direct sunlight getting in their houses, then try to make up for it with lots of AC.
Old 07-02-07, 08:42 AM
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I did the flooring in a place in the Colorado mountains several years ago to include some tile, some carpet, and some sheet vinyl. It was twenty degrees out side, they didn't have their heat working yet, and it was warm enough inside to do the job. The place was a burm house with two thirds of it built underground, back into a hill. The rest was a lot of glass to let in sun light. I don't really know the details of it all, but it was very impressive to be able to do flooring in an unheated home in that sort of cold without issues.
Old 07-09-07, 07:25 AM
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what would you do if you were building an energy efficient home?

Incorporate as much mass within the structure and inside of the main insulation. They always do it in solar homes.

The mass moderates conditions, which allow cheaper, smaller systems that can operate at lower levels over a longer period of time, which results in less energy imported for comfort.

Earth shelter/bermed construction is a prime example of using the benefits of mass and thermal inertia. - Unfortunately the short term steady state testing that is used by the lightweight building material marketing people distort the benefits of insulation.

ICFs are a great example of the benefits if mass inside the insulation to the point where the interior insulation really is not called on to provide the real insulation and it is really just a concrete form and a material to be used for details and finishes.

A lot of mass and a lttle controlled air flow/circulation is impossible to beat.


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